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A View from the Flip Side
by Lori Richmond


Front-line level employees with any company tend to be in a very good position to observe the good behaviors and the not-so-good behaviors of their leaders. Since one of my long-term goals is to be an executive with my company, and being prior military, I take leadership development VERY seriously. Over the past two years as a front-line level employee, I have maintained a list of observations about leadership, from a front-line view. As I have gained more responsibility in my company I have used this list as a set of guidelines when dealing with employees. I would like to encourage everyone from line-level to CEO to be aware that your employees DO, in fact, watch you and learn from you … whether you are aware of it or not!

Based on my observations, I have created a set of guidelines for myself and suggest they may be applicable to any leader, or those who aspire to lead. Consider this to be a view from the flip side!

I WILL . . .

  1. Never choose administrative duties or deadlines over my employees.

    Remember, when one of your employees comes to your door and asks to speak with you, there must be a very good reason for it! Taking the time to speak with them gives you a few advantages: a) you get to take a much needed break from your paperwork; b) your employees feel as though they are important to you; and c) you are more aware of the morale of your employees.

  2. Always tell my employees that they are THE BEST.

    When you tell your employees over and over that they are the best, they start to believe it. In turn, they start to act like they are the best. Let them know every day that they are the most valuable, highly competent, high performing group of employees out there … and before long, they WILL start acting like it.

  3. Always believe that my employees are the best.

    In order to make #2 work, you have to believe it yourself!

  4. Never focus on past poor performance when the performance is the result of an environment that I personally had no control over. Focus only on future potential and create the environment that best fosters developmental possibilities.

    Even the most highly motivated employee will flounder in an environment that is not conducive to their continued development … or if they get bored. If you come into a new situation and see people who are seemingly under-performing, there is a good chance that they need a change in their work environment. Do you see under-performers where you are now? …the same applies.

    Don't wait, start the change now! Ask your people what their goals are for themselves. Is the current situation helping them or hindering them from achieving those goals?

  5. Never discourage ideas, regardless of how seemingly far-fetched, impossible, irrelevant, unnecessary or change-intensive they seem. Provide every possible resource for my employees to implement their ideas and make sure they get full credit.

    Two years ago I was told that recreating and refocusing our department's current training program to include Guest Service and Guest/Employee Safety training was an "unnecessary waste of time." Being as stubborn as I am, I did it anyway on my time off. Eight months later I gladly stepped on stage with my fellow department team-mates to accept an award at our annual company awards ceremony for having successfully implemented a training program that resulted in having no Worker's Compensation claims, decreased employee turn-over rate from 30% to 0%, and having the highest Guest Satisfaction scores in the company. The moral of the story is - encourage the implementation of new ideas! Chances are that it will be done with or without your support … why not be the number one cheer-leader?

  6. Never forget where I started.

    Do you remember where you started? Were you a front desk agent, call center representative, or cashier? Do you remember what it was like to stand there every day wondering how in the world you were ever going to get to that seemingly impossible goal of being the CEO / VP / Manager? Did any of your leaders ever look at you when you were a front-line level employee and say, "WOW, you are on your way to the top …definitely executive material?" I know mine have never said that (and I have no expectation of hearing it), but look at you now! Who is to say that one of your current line-level employees is not a future CEO or business genius? I don't expect you to get warm fuzzies when thinking about the "way back when", but take a few minutes every week to think about what your leaders did NOT do for you that you CAN do for your employees?

These are just a few of the guidelines I have set for myself. Are your employees doing the same as they are watching you? Probably. They may not be writing them down, but rest assured that one of two things go through their mind when they interact with their leaders:

1. I will never, ever pull that on anybody no matter what … or …

2. WOW!! I can't wait to use that next time the situation comes up!

Be the ultimate example!


The Author

Lori Angelique Richmond was a Guest Service Agent with a resort in the western United States when she wrote this article and is now Director of Training with Doubletree Hotels. Contact Lori c/o The CEO Refresher.

Many more articles in Creative Leadership in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2002 by Lori Angelique Richmond. All rights reserved.

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